I became an HR person in 1984, the same year the Cubs got to the postseason for the first time since 1945.

I did not apply for an HR job. My boss John moved me into HR from my old department, Order Processing. He said “This will be good for you, and for our company” and he was right.

I moved into my new office over a weekend. The culture shock was immediate. My office had a window in it, and blinds for privacy. I would look out my office window at the employees doing their jobs.

Supervisors made appointments to come and see me and talk about their employees, and I always wondered “How come my time is available to the managers much more than to the employees, who need more help and support?”

Why did managers stroll into my office while employees had to sneak and skulk to talk with me? I made a habit of walking around the building and asking people “How are you doing?”

I talked to everybody all the time so that employees wouldn’t feel nervous about approaching me. I wanted the word to get out: “Talk to Liz if something is wrong.”

Right away I could see that something fundamental about HR was broken. I said “Right now I have this job to do but later, when I have more time, I will work to fix this problem.”

HR stands for Human Resources. Every company is powered by humans. Nothing but human ingenuity and passion can make your company grow or thrive, but people are too often overlooked in the practice of HR.

The needs of managers are prioritized above the  needs of the employees, and that is bad business as well as poor leadership.

If you like gag t-shirts you can find a t-shirt that says “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” You can substitute “Your employees” for “Mama” in this sentence and find that it is true. If your employees don’t like working for you, nothing good can happen!

HR people are in a bind. Their jobs are not easy. They have to do their best to listen to, counsel, coach and reinforce their teammates while also keeping their higher-up managers happy.